Dispaches from Festival Mémoire et Racines day one (Friday)
There are students of all ages who attend Camp Violon TradQuébec every July. And each year, their end of camp week performance opens Festival Mémoire et Racines. Around a hundred fiddlers, guitarists and pianists strut their new tunes and this year they were joined by a small group of accordionists. Professeurs André Brunet, Stéphanie Lepine, and Éric Beaudry were joined by Daniel Lemieux and Sabin Jacques for a fabulous show with their students.
Second up on the Gilles Cantin main stage Friday evening was the indigenous group Black Bear. Their compelling heartbeat rhythms were enhanced by the pow-wow and hoop dancing of Gilbert Niquay and Gilles Moar. They danced for what felt like ages with the most energetic and aerobic energy. Not for the faint of heart, but it’ll keep those dancers young forever.
Third up on Friday night was Traverse, the most excellent conjuration of fiddler Laura Risk, accordionist/flautist Nicholas Williams and pianist Rachel Aucoin. Tonight they were also joined by interpretive stepdancer Nic Gareiss who adds simply superb and sensitive percussive dance sounds to the gorgeous melodies. The set tonight showcases the lovely and lyrical tunes Laura chose for the CD, also called Traverse, many of which she collected during her PhD research in Gaspé, Québec. You can read more about the music HERE, in our recent review for Roots Music Canada.
Les Chauffeurs à Pieds took the stage next. The twin fiddles of Antoine Gaultier and Louis-Simon Lemieux blazed a fiery path down the centre of the stage, in this performance celebrating the 25th anniversary of this great band. All the little kids in the audience danced their tiny feet off on the grass before the stage. Call and Response songs were welcomed with equal joy and strong participation by the audience, but it was the jigs and reels that got everyone up and dancing.
Their hearts may have been broken by the deaths of two band members, but you’d almost never know it here. The remaining members of the East Pointers (Jake Charlton and Tim Chiaisson), and Vishten (Pascal Miousse and Emmannuelle Leblanc), have made 6 Hearts a complete tribute to not only their lost loved ones but a total tour de force of the music of Prince Edward Island. Tight driving rhythms make you believe that these four great musicians have been playing together for years. Tonight’s audience absolutely loved this music. Cody and Pastelle would be so proud.
6 Hearts finished the evening in true PEI kitchen party style. And the square dance continued late into the night in the dance hall, while the late night jam sessions began in the park and in the campgrounds.
Everyone will return for the promise of Saturday’s music. Lots to come!